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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN   RELATIONS

strokes of policy more trenchant than they really were,
abridged history gives men a greater appearance of
sovereignty over events than they actually possess; and
it tends to magnify the controlling power of govern-
rrifents over the next stage in the story. With the decline
of religion, and in the absence of anything else that seems
authentic, men and nations rely on the abridged history
they have learned to give them their impression of their
pkce in the sun, their purposeful intent, and their idea
of what they can do with their destiny. They acquire
an academic dream-impression of what statesmen can do
in the world, what governments achieve, what their
national mission is, and what can be brought about by
sheer self-assertion and will.

In any case, the world rarely remembers to what a
degree the pretended " lessons " whicli are extracted by
politicians from history are judgments based on the
assumption that we know what would have happened if
some statesman in the past had only acted differently,
When historians so often assert that the Congress of
Vienna made a mistake in neglecting the " principle of
nationality ", we may wonder whether they have really
faced for a single moment the question: What would
have happened in Europe if the Congress of Vienna had
followed the twentieth-century view ? There was much
talk in 1919 of the necessity of " avoiding the mistakes
of 1815 "; and when a person has been fed with the
apparently self-evident verdicts of abridged history, it is
difficult to convince him that in any event this Is a
fallacious formula for policy. What you have to avoid
in 1919 are not the mistakes of 1815 but the mistakes

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